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Common Ostomy Problems and Possible Solutions

Food blockages. Symptoms may include no output from the stoma for more than 4 hours, cramping in the abdomen, nausea or vomiting and high watery output. Solution: Drink hot tea and increase your fluid input. Take a warm bath or shower and massage your abdomen. Have a glass of wine. This will help relax your abdominal muscles. Get down on all fours with your backside in the air. An undignified position, but it does help some people move a blockage. If the blockage persists for more than a few hours, seek medical advice from your nearest hospital.

Mucous and bleeding from the rectumSolution: This is completely normal if your rectum is still intact, although annoying, since the mucosal lining of the rectum is still working. Try wearing a sanitary napkin to save soiling your underwear.  If the bleeding is profuse, see your doctor.

Odor.  Solution: Simple solutions that work for some ostomates are to place mint tic tacs or mint mouthwash into your bag. Deodorants, either taken orally or placed in your bag, are available from your online medical supply store. DO NOT place aspirin in your bag in an attempt to eliminate odor—doing so can cause damage to your stoma.

Bleeding.  Solution: First, determine if the bleeding is coming from the surface of the stoma or from internally. If it is internally, then it’s wise to seek medical advice. If the bleeding is from the surface of the stoma, it should stop quite quickly. Stomas are made from the same type of skin as the inside of your cheeks and you know how easily they bleed. Even the slightest little nick can cause it to bleed. If bleeding is profuse or doesn’t stop quickly, seek medical help. Cuts to the stoma can also be caused by the wafer riding off center. Try “picture framing” the wafer with some tape to stop it from moving.

Phantom rectal pain, ie., you get the urge to go to the toilet in the “old way”, even though you know you can’t. Solution: This pain is because your body needs time to adjust to it’s new plumbing and still thinks it needs to go to the toilet in the old way. Try going and sitting on the toilet anyway, even though you know it’s pointless. A lot of people find this alleviates the pain. The good news is that over time, phantom rectal pains become less frequent and eventually disappear altogether.

Stoma is placed on or above the beltline.  Solution:  This is more common in men than women for some reason. DO NOT let them site your stoma on or above the beltline if at all possible. Belts will stop the stool from flowing into the pouch so try wearing trousers a size bigger than you would normally wear and wear braces or suspenders to keep them up rather than a belt.

Seatbelt of cars ride right over the stoma site and are uncomfortable.   Solution:  Try using a clothes peg at the top of the seatbelt where it slides into the door. This will enable you to wear the seatbelt looser than normal but still protect you in case of an accident. Use a small cushion or pillow between you and the seatbelt. Remember, a broken stoma is much easier to put back together than a whole person!

Stoma shows through a tight dress.   Solution:  Try wearing bike pants or similar lycra pants under your outfit that will smooth out the line of the bag. Empty frequently.

Excerpted from an article in the Huntsville, Alabama “Re-Route”
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